ROANOKE, Va. – Would you buy a home without ever actually stepping foot inside of it?
Foreclosure buyers do this all the time, but this is the new normal for some regular buyers in the face of coronavirus restrictions.
Roanoke realtor Joe Kraft is keeping the signs moving from for sale to sold despite these trying times. In the time of stay at home, he’s making home buying like ordering from Amazon prime.
It’s for the benefit of home buyers both near and far. Mike O’Malley is a doctor from Maine whose moving his family to Roanoke in just a few months.
“With some of the travel restrictions and just the precautions that are in place right now, it’s been difficult for us to find a time to get down there to house hunt,” O’Malley said.
Kraft’s virtual home buying process helps keep the market churning during the outbreak. His team has taken the normally very in-person process completely online.
“We have dealt with clients from all over the country who have bought homes virtually, but that number was a lot less than we’re doing now,” Kraft said.
Sites like Zillow have been aiding home buyers online for years now, but this is truly one-on-one service. Kraft gives live tours over Facetime and answers all the questions he can.
“Everybody wants to have that touch, that feel, they want to see how large the closet is, they want to look to see what’s behind that door,” Kraft said. “So we’re acting as their guide so to speak.”
The tour is just one part of Kraft’s social-distancing approved process. There are e-signatures for documents and even a mobile notary to bring the closing papers right to you.
“It could be the day that they pull up with their moving trucks, that could be the first time they actually step foot in the home," Kraft said.
While that may work for some buyers, O’Malley plans to make a trip down to Roanoke when he can to see his options before he signs on the dotted line. But he’s thankful he’s able to do be buying at all.
“The virtual tours have helped with that because you can limit the homes very easily, right, you don’t have to go there with some 20 odd homes, you go there with a couple that you’ve narrowed it down to and then you make a decision," O’Malley said.
Zillow has seen it’s 3D online home mapping tool grow more than 200 percent and Kraft said despite these trying times there’s still plenty of people buying and selling homes.